A Wager in the Heavenly Court

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Job 1:6-12

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” (v. 9)

“Prosperity is your divine right” read the bumper sticker—a saying from a then prominent television preacher. Or as a friend translated it: “If you love God, you get the goodies.” Why do we love God? Is it because of what we get out of it—wealth, health, a ticket to heaven? In his classic work On Loving God, the medieval saint Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us that we should love God simply for who God is and not for anything we can get.

We are early in the story of Job and already a debate has broken out. Satan and God are arguing in the heavenly court. God claims there is no one like Job—an upright man who fears him. But the Accuser insists that Job is righteous only because of what it gets him. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan sneers. “If you take away all he has, then Job’s faith will crumble and he will curse you to your face.” And with that the wager is on. Is Job a case of piety for profit? Or is Job an example of true faith? What matters to Job: God’s goodies or God himself?

PRAYER

God of love, purify our hearts, that we might love and serve you simply for who you are and not because of anything we could receive.